Physical distancing

How will schools ensure distancing in classrooms?

Schools will remove unnecessary furniture and place desks with as much distancing as possible. Desks will face forward rather than in circles or groupings.

How much distance will be maintained between individuals?

As much distancing as possible between students and between students and staff.

Given the opening of shared indoor spaces like libraries or cafeterias, how will you ensure social distancing and overall safety?

We will promote masking, appropriate physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

Cohorting

Will students be organized in cohorts this year?

Elementary school students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will remain in one cohort for the full day. Cohorted classes will stay together and with one teacher, where possible.

Secondary students will attend school in person every day, with their classmates, using a modified semester schedule which includes a 150 minute morning class, a nutrition break and a 150 minute afternoon class

COVID-19 case notifications

What will happen if there is a case of COVID-19 in a classroom or if schools are required to close?

Similar to last year, staff will work with Region of Waterloo Public Health to support contact tracing and provide necessary direction and guidance to families.

For those classes that are dismissed and required to self-isolate, students would move to remote learning and access the virtual learning environment established by their teacher.

Vaccines and immunization

Who can get the vaccine?

Starting on August 18, all children turning 12 years old before the end of 2021 will be eligible for their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Will you require staff to provide proof of vaccination?

The Ministry of Education has put in place a vaccination disclosure and rapid testing policy. We are developing our process and protocol and will share that before September 7, 2021.

Once vaccines are approved for those under 12, what is our plan to promote and facilitate vaccinations among younger students?

We will work closely with the Region of Waterloo Public Health and The Waterloo Region Vaccine Task Force to support their efforts.

Will students have to be fully vaccinated to participate in extracurriculars and activities?

We have not received any information or further direction from the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Health regarding vaccination requirements for students at this time.

Masks

When do students need to wear a mask during their school day?

Students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) will continue to wear masks in the 2021-22 school year, as they did in the past one.

Students must wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors, including in hallways and during classes and on school vehicles. Masks may be temporarily removed indoors for the following activities, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort to:

  • Engage in low-contact physical activity
  • Consume food or drink
Are Kindergarten students required to wear a mask?

Yes. The Trustee motion regarding masks from August 2020 did not include an end date. As such, it would remain in place until a motion to the contrary is passed.

Do students have to wear a mask outdoors?

Students are not expected to wear face coverings while outdoors in their cohort, as long as 2m can be maintained between students from different cohorts. All students should be mindful of physical distancing while unmasked.

What kind of face-covering or mask should we use?
  • The best face covering or mask is the one that fits comfortably.
  • A cloth mask should be made with two or more layers of fabric and be easy to breathe through.
  • It should be large enough to cover the nose, mouth and chin without any gaps.
  • Plastic masks or face shields are not a substitute for cloth masks.
  • Masks should be stored in something breathable like a paper bag, fabric bag or envelope that does not retain moisture, if the mask will be worn again.
  • Pack several masks each day and send your child to school with two bags for masks, one labelled “clean” and one “dirty.”
  • Instruct your child to put their mask in the “dirty” bag if it gets wet or soiled, and to use a new, clean mask.
  • Wash the masks at the end of each day before reuse.

Ventilation

How have the ventilation projects progressed to date?

Multiple schools have received ventilation improvements including HEPA filtration units, HVAC system filter upgrades, windows, and other measures to support sufficient air circulation in classrooms.

Your school board received federal funding for COVID-related updates, including for ventilation projects scheduled to be completed by December 2021 or later. Can you provide an update on the status of the projects you have undertaken?

We have more than 50 projects that will benefit from the funding. This includes installation of windows that open, mechanical ventilation, repair of fresh air intake, and renewal and repair of existing HVAC systems.

What percentage of schools in your district have mechanical ventilation?

61% of WRDSB schools have full mechanical ventilation, and a further 38% have partial mechanical ventilation.

Air filtration

What kind of air filtration do classrooms have?

WRDSB heating ventilation and air conditioning units use MERV 11 of greater rated filters and have been upgraded to MERV 13 rated filters wherever possible. For schools or parts of schools without mechanical ventilation, standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units will be used.

How many Kindergarten classes already have HEPA filters?

As all of our Kindergarten classrooms are mechanically ventilated, we did not use portable HEPA filters as part of our classroom air filtration system. Effective for the 2021/2022 school year, all kindergarten classrooms will be equipped with a portable HEPA filter.